Axbattler the sword-wielder!

User Rating: 8.5 | Golden Axe GEN
A game that got translated well from the arcade halls into our living rooms on most formats. This is a review of the Genesis version. In the game you get to choose between 3 characters: Ax-battler the barbarian that, for some strange reason, fights with a sword and uses Earth magic. The dwarf Gilius Thunderhead uses Thunder magic and wields a double edged battleaxe. Tyris Flare is a sexy Amazon warrior that specializes in fire magic and fights with a long-sword just like Ax-battler. It's a side-scrolling 2D slash'em up game that can be played by 1 or 2 players.

Well done graphics but a bit hastily made and look more like they had been done (very nicely mind you) on an eight bit machine as opposed to a sixteen bit one sometimes. The scrolling is smooth except when you really need it (I will return to this under the Game play heading) Nice black and white stills that show the portraits of the heroes. Cool animation and nice sprites still make this game nice to look at. The colors are usually bright autumn colors like orange, red, brown and so on but the levels are all different and the backgrounds and the "bonus stage" is where the only real magic lies, as far as graphics are concerned and set the mood and the atmosphere for each stage.

Herein lay the strongest part of the game which is the soundtrack. Immortal tunes made of medieval harmonies and melodies that stick in your brain forever, just like your favorite Iron Maiden song. There are plenty of tracks to go through and I have actually started the game many times in my youth just to hear the tunes again! The sound effects are just as good (almost) with the very cool and original chopping sound of the swings from the weapons and the death-screams of perished foes and heroes. The fireballs and fire sounds the red and purple dragons make are also cool. What I find a little annoying is that the skeletons ALSO scream in pain as you "kill" them. Uhm. . . ok.

Game play:
The game is incredibly fun and addictive but as you go on you find some flaws here and there, like the sides of the screen aren't 100% sprite sensitive and you (at least I do) throw yourself in a massive head charge but hit only air as the foes, still visible to the eye, is out of reach for your attack. Unfortunately, this only works one-way and you are completely open to their attacks. One more thing that is very frustrating is at the jump on the fiend's path where you have to tap your way to the edge first and then go back and jump over it. In the 2 player mode this is a real challenge. One you could have done without… The scrolling isn't fast/smooth enough. These are just small flaws but especially the first one adds up to frustration. The element of magic is a very cool and welcomed idea with a good system that works well. The thieves are also a cool addition to the atmosphere and another thing that makes this game more than just another beat 'em up game. The thieves appear on all levels here and there. A cool thing is that they also sneak into your camp at night and you get to chase and kick them. The thieves drop magic potions and meat that boost your magic and health respectively. You can also throw foes off their dragons and mount the beasts yourself! How cool is that! Blowing fire in the face of enemies and hurling deadly fireballs is good fun. The story of the game is complete bollocks and is about as intriguing as an eight bit soccer game. The fun REALLY takes off when you play together with a friend and slash yourselves all the way to the final boss, Death Adder. The game does get repetitive after a while though, with its limited number of different enemies.

Well, at least you'll want to finish the game three times, one time with each character. Apart from the story mode there are other options for you. "The Duel" is a one player bash, where you get thrown into an arena and have to face different enemies and will try to win as many rounds as you can. This is also time-limited which is the real challenge, and it gets very tough at the end. You can also cross swords with other human players. For beginners there is a training mode. You have different choices of difficulty and of course the most important (you have GOT to love the Genesis for this) the option to play any song from the game. All this make this game one you WILL return to eventually. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, maybe in 3 years.

An average- looking game with many nuances in terms of game-play with a few frustrating moments. Repetitive game play in the one player mode after a while. Superb music and sound effects and tons of options and nice menus.